We had a meeting yesterday with The Computer Guy. At one point, #1 daughter exclaimed with girlish glee and complete sincerity, “I just love systems! When someone has a good system, it makes me happy!”

This is because she’s a Square — not in the sense of being unhip, but in the Psychogeometrics sense. This is a personality types system that uses shapes as the central metaphor. There are Circles, highly social people who are process oriented, Triangles, who like to be in charge and have things done their way, Squares, who really like rules and want things to be done correctly, and Squiggles, who are creative people who like lots of variety.

In searching for a link for you, I see that they’ve updated the system so that a Square is now called a Box and there is a Rectangle. There’s also a paid 10-15 minute test, where it used to be merely a matter of looking at four shapes and picking one.

It seems to me that this has spoiled the chaste beauty of the system, which was excellent largely for its simplicity. We used it at the store. You’d ask people to pick a shape (or, okay, give them a two-page forced-choice test), and you’d get a personality type analysis that was just as useful as the Meyers-Briggs inventory, but far simpler.

In yesterday’s meeting, we actually had one of each of the shapes in the room, which is the ideal arrangement. The Circle wasn’t really involved in the meeting, but he joined in, because that’s what Circles do.

There’s a book on the subject, Psycho-geometrics: The Science Of Understanding People, And The Art Of Communicating With Them, but my favorite description of the types is this one, from Your Sinclair, which is apparently a magazine in the UK:

If you chose the triangle then you’re in luck! This is the choice of most successful people (mind you, Gloria Hunniford’s quite ‘successful’, so maybe it’s not that brilliant). You know where it’s at, where you’ve been and where you want to go. With your precision, perfectionism, quick mind and communicating skills you should go far. You’re probably a tad on the boring side though. (Can’t have everything, can we?)
If you chose the circle then you’re a bit wet. All a bit emotional and wibbly round the edges. It’s the shape the bloke from Little House On The Prairie and Highway To Heaven would probably have chosen. Basically you’re a little bit of a sap. Quite ‘nice’ though.
If you chose the square then you’re one of the most yawnsome people on the entire planet. You analyse a problem and break it down into miniscule particles, examine them, and then break each of the miniscule particles down into even smaller sub-particles and examine them as well before making a decision – even for a problem as mundane as ‘Shall I have another bowl of Sugar Puffs or not?’ You’re reliable though – dull and reliable!
If you chose the squiggly line then you’re always in a hurry. You get bored every eight pico-seconds and have to constantly find new challenges. You may be incredibly enthusiastic, but your ‘ants in your pants’ chopping and changing attitude to life means you’ll probably turn out to be a jack of all trades, master of none. You’re quite good fun at parties and you can put up quite a steady(ish) shelf (if called on to do so). Basically, you’re one of life’s ‘slightly useful’ people.

Your Sinclair is an extremely weird title for a magazine, but I have it on good authority that people there put baked beans into baked potatoes, which they call “jacket potatoes,” so we mustn’t be too astonished. Also, “Sinclair” seems to have been a brand of computer there. They put prawn salad in potatoes, too. And Gloria Hunniford is a talk show hostess or something.

Now that we’re all up to speed, I’ll continue on the question of systems.

On the way home from the meeting, I remarked that the comment about systems was a perfect example of Square-ness. The Computer Guy, a Triangle, had smiled at #1 daughter when she said that in an admiring but astonished way, and she had said, “Fibermom doesn’t like systems.” The Computer Guy muttered something about uniqueness, and indeed I am a Squiggle and therefore admittedly prefer to do things differently every time.

However, I also like to think about things in terms of systems: everything in a system affects everything else in that system. By thinking in terms of systems, you can gain a better understanding of the entire picture.

“But you like chaos,” #1 daughter pointed out. It’s true. When I think of ecosystems or economic systems, I like to think of the richness and complexity of the systems. #1 daughter prefers not to think of them that way.

So, for example, in the ecosystem of my office, the introduction of #1 daughter and #2 son as residents, and of #1 son coming in and joining their play all the time resulted in a complete change in the system and a great deal of chaos, as you can see above. You can’t see the Rubik’s Cube on my desk, which I think must have been spontaneously generated by the chaos, but you can see that it’s a hard place to work.

Now that we have regretfully sent #2 son back to school, I plan to get the office back to the tide pool sort of system it was, rather than the deep sea sort of thing it has become.

I think I’m coming to oceanic metaphors because I won a credit for work at oDesk, for the purpose of making a snazzy math lesson. I plan, therefore, to hire Jay to jazz up a lesson plan. #1 daughter and I came up with the idea of using global warming and sea creatures as a theme for the math lesson. I therefore have a large portion of my brain doing background tasks on the subject of global warming and sea creatures.

I have to work today, to make up for having spent Thursday playing with my kids. It’s wonderful that I had that option.

I hope, though, to reduce the chaos in my office to something more like mere complexity.

And yes, that is actual knitting up there at the top. I’ve reached the armscye on the second front section, and am doing some fancy stuff with short rows to make the collar band. I hope it will more or less match the other side. I’m thinking in an idle manner about what I might knit after this, and so I went and looked at Twist, which has lots of really charming patterns. Each one costs seven dollars. I guess this is the equivalent of buying a knitting book and making two things out of it, but it seems expensive for a single pattern. After all, Knitty has a fall issue up and lots of patterns in it for free. As is so often the case, I like the expensive patterns better, and of course Twist isn’t full of ads. What do you think?